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Now two new laws in Colorado will allow many people to collect rainwater legally. The laws are the latest crack in the rainwater edifice, as other states, driven by population growth, drought, or declining groundwater in their aquifers, have already opened the skies or begun actively encouraging people to collect.
Just 75 miles west of here, in Utah, collecting rainwater from the roof is still illegal unless the roof owner also owns water rights on the ground; the same rigid rules, with a few local exceptions, also apply in Washington State.
With the new laws, the state created a system of fines for rain catchers without a permit; previously the only option was to shut a collector down.
But Kevin Rein, Colorado’s assistant state engineer, said enforcement would focus on people who violated water rules on a large scale.
“It’s not going to be a situation where we’re sending out people to look in backyards,” Mr. Rein said.
To her surprise, the state engineer opposed her application, arguing that other water users already had locked up the right to use the rain. The Colorado Water Court agreed, and Kris was denied the right to store a few barrels of rainwater. If she persisted with rain harvesting, she would be subject to fines of up to $500 per day.
Anne Arundel County, Md., will now offer up to $10,000 in tax credit to people making efforts to reduce storm water pollution on their properties
...New Law Allowing Rainwater Collection in Colorado
Senate Bill 09-080, which was passed by the General Assembly and signed by the Governor during the 2009 legislative session, allows limited collection and use of precipitation for landowners, only if:
1. The property on which the collection takes place is residential property, and
2. The landowner uses a well, or is legally entitled to a well, for the water supply, and
3. The well is permitted for domestic uses according to Section 37-92-602, C.R.S., (generally, this means the permit number will be five or six digits with no “-F” suffix at the end), and
4. There is no water supply available in the area from a municipality or water district, and
5. The rainwater is collected only from the roof, and
6. The water is used only for those uses that are allowed by, and identified on, the well permit.
If you do not meet, at a minimum, ALL of the above criteria, then the change in the law does not affect you and the current restrictions on collecting rainwater still apply. The new law becomes effective July 1, 2009. The Division of Water Resources will provide forms and additional guidance for those who plan to collect precipitation from their rooftops as soon as they can be developed. Until then, if you have questions, they may be answered below. If your question is not answered below, please submit your questions to the “e-mail questions” link at the bottom of our home page and we will address your question as soon as possible...